Wintry Mix

This is a wintry mix post that is pretty —

(not filled with all the snow & slush of recent snow storms).

Every year China puts on an elaborate and spectacular ice-sculpture festival at the Ice and Snow World in the Harbin Hellongjiang province. Here’s a recent preview and from what I’ve posted previously.

China_ice sculptures_AIEView many more pics here.

Ice Sculpture via CNN_AIEAnother out of the ordinary wintry scene is Greg Dunn’s photo that looks like winter trees with their icy roots exposed. However, it’s his painting of “Cortical Columns” using neuroscience to create such imagery.

Greg Dunn Cortical Columns painting on Art Is EverywhereMy father would be pleased to see neuroscience and art combined in such a beautiful depiction.

Art Patrons in the News

I was glad to read about these two stories regarding well-known celebrities bringing art to communities.

Actress Viola Davis has given $1500 to Segue Institute for Learning for their campaign to paint Martin Luther King Murals for 2015. The charter-based school for at-risk, 6th – 8th grade students, is located in Central Falls, RI, where Ms. Davis is a native. She has helped to support the school since its inception in 2006.

Viola Davis via GoLocalProv on Art is EverywhereAlso in the news, Bill Gates is commissioning over 30 artists to create artwork that promotes getting vaccines. The campaign is called “The Art That Saves a Life.

Art That Saves a Life on Art is EverywhereThe Birth of Vaccines Photo by Alexa Sinclair on Art Is Everywhere Clicking on the link above will show you all the artists involved, including the Russian illustrator Evgeny Parfenov, whose portrait of Tom Yorke, of the famed Radiohead band,    that I find interesting.

Tom Yorke Portrait by Evgeny Parfenov on Art Is Everywhere




Blood Clot Brings Creativity

It’s always this time of year that I remember the passing of my good friend’s husband due to a brain tumor. The anniversary of his death occurs on my mother’s birthday — a strange dichotomy of sadness and celebration. When I saw Tom Jacobs’ story in the Pacific Standard recently about researchers finding possible ways to reduce or increase creative thought due to restrictions on the brain caused by a hematoma, it caught my attention, while the human brain was on my mind.

He writes that an Israeli research team studied a 46 year old accountant who suddenly began to draw in notebooks and felt the compulsion to create a painting a day while at the hospital after suffering a stroke. He had no previous artistic training. As his hemorrhage diminished from the stroke, so did his preoccupation for creating artwork. His impaired language returned and over the course of three years after the blood clot subsided, he was no longer able to draw. The researchers concluded that higher levels of creativity seem to occur in damaged areas of the brain, particularly in the left temporoparital frontal areas where this patient’s hematoma occurred. Although the study is not definitive, it is interesting to note the assertions as Tom Jacobs writes, “Nevertheless, if the Israeli researchers are right, it leads to fascinating speculation over whether we might somehow find a way to restrain, or re-train, that part of the brain that is prematurely dismissing our creative ideas. Preferably without suffering a stroke.”

Click here to read more details about this fascinating story.

Dartmouth brain study on Art Is Everywhere

Click here for the Dartmouth Roots of Creativity in the Brain — an intriguing study and resource for this colorful image.

Coincidentally, I saw this other Blood story about Britain’s commemoration of WWI with over 888,246 ceramic poppies on display and “spilling” out of London’s Tower. They represent the blood of each Commonwealth soldier’s life well fought and lost in WWI. The installation, Blood Swept Lands And Seas of Red, is now being dismantled but click the link to learn more — especially how Paul Cummins a ceramicist pitched the idea and with the help of set designer, Tom Piper, & The Tower of London and many volunteers, the exhibit was created. It has become so popular, you can no longer buy a poppy as a piece of artistic history.

Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red exhibit on Art is Everywhere

Queen Elizabeth and Poppies_on Art is Everywhere

Poppies exhibit at twilight_ on Art Is Everywhere

David Cameron and poppies on Art Is Everywhere

Another important commemoration in recent news is the 25th year of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Something that is hard to forget when I saw it happen. Amazing to know that DC has its own piece of the wall on display.

Section of Berlin Wall at ITC in DC on Art Is Everywhere Freedom_Park-Washington_DC_on Art Is Everywhere

I’m not sure if this last one still exists in Freedom Plaza, as the Virtual Tourist source was quite some time ago.

Looking out for that Starry Starry Night

I’m posting early, so you won’t miss something at the end. When you think if VanGogh, you might think of this one painting, Starry Night. It’s iconic. It’s the one that pops up first in Wikipedia. I is a masterpiece too. It’s also interesting to see how it can be used in other ways — to educate, for other artists, public art…

Starry-night_AIE_via Wikipedia

I know we’re still in summer and have a lot of enjoyment of it to do — before we get back to school and/ or work (although I haven’t stopped), but I though this was interesting. The Camp Ernst Middle School in Cincinnati  has painted a version of VanGogh’s Mural as a math project. Who says learning can’t be fun.

Camp Enst Middle School_ via on AIE

Like my previous post, Kristen Dillenbeck-Anderson has painted a subject inside a mural of VanGogh’s painting, creating a “living” piece of public art.

Living Mural_plymough Canton Patch on AIE


This painting’s subject is actually a Cafe Terrace at Night that VanGogh painted from a street scene in Arles, which I have also reproduced, many moons ago and have it on my website. I did this after I took a pastel painting course while traveling in France and I was taken with the town of St. Remy. Van Gogh’s painting, although of Arles, could have been exactly where we enjoyed a midday lunch.

VanGogh_Repro-painting by Ashley Spencer 0059_blog

Speaking of stars, this is the time to be looking for them. It’s around this time every year that the Perseid meteor shower happens — around my oldest son’s birthday. Piers turns 25 today, when this year’s meteor shower is at its peak. I can’t believe he’s this old!! What a milestone, especially considering his birth was surrounded by many health concerns and so much uncertainty. It’s amazing how he’s grown into a responsible, independent adult with his own career path, domicile and girlfriend. He seems happy and enjoying life. That’s the most a mom could wish for but I’m also very proud of him and couldn’t even imagine my life now without his existence. I’ll be thanking my lucky stars as I make note of all the many blessings with each falling star. I already have this wish granted.

Here’s a great explanation of what to expect and you can even get the free Meteor Counter app for counting all those meteors!


Traveling to the Unknown

This will be new for me. Rarely do I do decorative painting projects where I need to travel but this one is different. I’m traveling this week to paint two pieces of large furniture for an interior designer’s client at their vacation home. I’ll post an update, but for now, know I’ll be here this week….Can you guess where in the world this small town, USA might be?

travel spot for work, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

And I may be needing this…As it is always discomforting not sleeping in your own house and bed. This is an EnergyPod — not a Sleep-pod by MetroNaps.

sleep-pod-prototype_NYTimes_as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Google and other companies acknowledge the power of giving the brain a mental rest to recharge during the day. I might just need it for the night. Here are some good pull quotes to express the importance of sleep — but some of us, like me — just do not get enough ;):

Most people, Dr. Ellenbogen says, think of the sleeping brain as similar to a computer that has “gone to sleep” — it does nothing productive. Wrong. Sleep enhances performance, learning and memory. Most unappreciated of all, sleep improves creative ability to generate aha! moments and to uncover novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas.

Steven P. Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, once defined creativity as “just connecting things.” Sleep assists the brain in flagging unrelated ideas and memories, forging connections among them that increase the odds that a creative idea or insight will surface.

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